Behavior Tip of the Month
I have an adorable thirteen week-old puppy who is slowly chewing me out of house and home. HELP!
Puppies are little chewing machines. They teethe for the first 7 months and need to investigate their environment for a year after that. How do wolf and dog pups investigate? They do it by chewing. Small wonder she's chewing your house. To her, it is just a big chew toy.
To train her, start by giving her safe, legal items to chew. These items should be dog toys, not socks, slippers or anything else that resembles your house, clothes or rugs. Some good chewing are:
1) Hollow rubber toys that can be filled with kibble, canned food, a carrot, or even a dab of peanut butter
2) Bully sticks
3) Pressed rawhide (under supervision).
Rotate her chewies every day so she doesn't get bored. It is essential to teach her what is legal to chew and what is off-limits. She doesn't know that dog toys are any different from your underwear, house, or rugs. You can teach her the difference by playing the following Chewing Games:
A. Good chewie, Bad chewie.
1) Put 3 acceptable chewies on the floor as well as 3 unacceptable items
2) Attach a houseline (a 2 yard clothesline or 2 leashes tied together) to your pup
3) Let your pup wander. If she goes near an off limit item, growl "leave it" and gently pull her away.
4) If she goes near the good chewie, sweetly say "good chewie" and pet her body for a few minutes.
5) Choose different off limit items and change locations nightly.
B. Take your pup on a tour of the house every day. Growl "eh, eh" if she even sniffs an off limit item. Praise with "good chewie" if she sniffs her own toys.
C. Smear menthol, listerine, or alum on off limit items your puppy is likely to chew. Ben Gay type products work well on electrical cords, wood and plastic furniture. Alum powder can be found in the first aid sections of pharmacies. It tastes bitter but won't harm fabric or upholstery.
If you catch your pup with an off-limit item, don't yell or punish her. That will only teach her to fear you or to chew items when you're not there. Instead, let the off-limit item startle her. Just as she begins to chew the illegal item, unobtrusively spray her behind the ear with a water pistol. Put it on the stream setting, but don't let her see you do the spraying. Let her think the bad item did it, not you. She will be surprised but not hurt. Try to spray her before she does the actual chewing. Then, lead her over to a good chew toy and play. Praise and pet her if she chews the toy.
Dogs learn by repetition so try to follow these suggestions daily. It is up to us to teach our canines what is theirs and what is ours. From a puppy's viewpoint, the whole world is one big chew toy. It is our job to teach our pets human rules. If we don't, it isn't fair to punish them for ruined socks, shoes, rugs, furniture, TV remotes, etc., etc., etc.
Let's make our New Year motto, "Train, don't complain". If you become your puppy's teacher, you will able to choose what your dog chews.
Best Friend Behavior Counseling and Training
San Diego, Ca.
Do you have a question for Carole? You can reach her at this email address - firstname.lastname@example.org Perhaps she will use it in an upcoming article on this Web site.
The information contained on this site is in no way intended to replace that of proper veterinary advice, diagnosis or treatment.
It is meant to provide resource, so that we can better understand canine health related issues.